Hong Kong pro-democracy activists refused entry to Macau

Other News Materials 20 December 2008 14:05 (UTC +04:00)

More than 20 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were refused entry to Macau Saturday when they planned to join demonstrations against proposed new national security laws, reported dpa.

The activists, including eight Hong Kong legislators, were detained by immigration officials and turned away after they arrived by ferry in the Chinese-ruled former Portuguese colony.

"The immigration officials told us we were in breach of internal security laws but didn't tell us the provision. They didn't even ask us the purpose of our visit," legislator Cyd Ho said.

A Macau government spokesman said they were denied entry because they did not meet immigration requirements. The action was taken in the interests of "public safety and order," he said.

Macau, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1999, plans to introduce national security laws which activists say will diminish free speech and the right to protest.

When similar laws were proposed in neighbouring Hong Kong, one hour's ferry ride from Macau, protest marches by more than 500,000 people forced the territory's government to shelve the plans.

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 after 156 years of British colonial rule under a "one country, two systems" arrangement guaranteeing political and judicial freedoms.

Macau, a gambling resort with a population of 500,000 returned to Chinese sovereignty under the same conditions, but has comparatively few pro-democracy activists and only one legislator in the pro-democracy camp.